On the Road with Tom and Gloria travel blog



wrap around porch


view of hotel from garden

Opollo - Mineral Springs #3

all rooms have view inside the dome

until Astrodome, this was the largest free span dome

original floor tiles

incredible fireplace


got caught for this train!

I had read about this hotel in a travel magazine and made a mental note to visit if I was ever in the area. The French Lick Resort is made up of two hotels one mile apart - the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel. The rooms go for approximately $350 a night and a round of golf will cost that much again. The West Baden was at full occupancy tonight!

The place is gorgeous and has quite a history. Dr. John Lane named the hotel after the famous springs in Wiesbaden, Germany. The second owner, Lee Sinclair, turned it into a sophisticated resort. Fire destroyed the original building But Sinclair rebuilt bigger and better than ever. People called the free span dome " the eighth wonder of the world".

Under the third owner, Ed Ballard, it was turned into a gambling resort. After the stock market crash Mr Ballard sold the hotel to the Jesuits for $1. The Jesuits eliminated most of the hotel's elegant contents and ran a seminary there for 30 years. The railroad eliminated the stop in town so the Jesuits left. It became a college dormitory but fell into tremendous disrepair. Walls were actually caving in.

In 1974 the hotel was placed on the National Registry of Historic places and in 1987 it became a National Landmark. The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana purchased the west Baden Springs Hotel in 1996 for $250,000. But who could afford to bring it back to it's original glory?

Enter the Cook family. Dr. Cook invented the catheter that is used in all heart operations. His son still runs the company ( along with other ventures) . The CFC, a Cook Group Company, purchased both hotels and combined them into one resort. They also developed the French Lick Casino. Total investment - $500 million dollars!

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